Pole dancing as an Olympic sport? Dear God, how is it possible that a highly sexualized activity that began in strip clubs could end up repackaged as a “sport” on the world stage?

[Daphne Bramham | Vancouver Sun]

Simple. Just like click-bait, pole dancing is part of a cynical and perpetual quest for more money by male-dominated sporting bodies that, at best, pay lip service to gender equality.

The Global Association of International Sports Federations got the ball rolling last month when it granted observer status to pole dancing (aka the International Pole Sport Federation). As an observer sport, it can eventually apply to be considered as an Olympic event.

I don’t know if it makes it better or worse, but along with pole dancing, the seven men and two women on the GAISF’s board also recognized dodge ball, arm wrestling, kettle-bell lifting, table soccer and poker. Yes, poker, which at some point might mean Las Vegas is the obvious choice of an Olympic venue.

The men’s magazine Maxim is among pole dancing’s most enthusiastic supporters, calling it “definitely the sexiest sport ever invented.”

In its feature on pole dancing’s chances of becoming an Olympic event, Men’s Fitness magazine wrote: “Soon you may be able to stand up and cheer for the representative from Vegas. If you can stand up at all.”

Not sure that’s a recommendation.

"...Why aren’t these influential women and others speaking out now and rallying others to stop this bizarre attempt to promote and sell strip-club entertainment..."

— Daphne Bramham

Jon Heshka describes it as “a drift by mega-sporting organizations — maybe even a pernicious drift — away from sport for its own sake to sport as entertainment.”

The drift began with beach volleyball and the IOC requirement that female competitors wear tiny bikini bottoms, while male competitors wear long, baggy shorts. It continued with the introduction of female-only cheerleaders at the beach volleyball venue at the Beijing Summer Games.

Heshka, who teaches sports law at Thompson Rivers University, says, “Money becomes central to the enterprise. And what sells? Sex sells. Risk sells. … Just imagine if pole dancing were at the Olympics. They could sell out 15,000- to 18,000-person stadiums and the IOC and the sponsors would be salivating at the prospect.”

As far as pole dancing goes, I’ve watched YouTube videos of some of the winners over the past six years that world championships have been held. With scanty outfits, music and mood lighting incorporated in the performances by both male and female competitors, it’s entertaining in its own way.